Two weeks ago we discussed what emotional intelligence is and how it can affect the decisions you make ( http://bit.ly/2czbXID ). It has long been recognised that some people are low in emotional intelligence and some are high and that this can have an effect on academic success, work performance and relationships. The good news is that emotional intelligence is an ability that can, to a certain extent, be trained.
Emotional intelligence training programmes are still in the relatively early days with many interventions still being tested in research studies. Nevertheless, these types of interventions have thus far been successful in improving emotional intelligence in adults, in university students who are planning the next stages of their careers and in teenage boys who were less aggressive, hostile and angry following the training [1-3]. But what is emotional intelligence training? Most programmes focus on four key aspects:
1) Understanding emotions – sometimes in life we have a tendency to downplay our emotions in favour of carrying on with the business of life. But as we discussed last week your emotions can have unintended consequences on the decisions we make as well as what we attend to, learn and create. For example, people who are feeling blue are more likely to have their attention drawn towards sad things than to pleasant things .
2) Identifying emotions – can you easily recognise your own and others’ emotions? Sometimes it is easier said than done and one emotion can mask another. For example, if a child does something dangerous and you react with anger this may not be true anger but rather the fear you had that they could have hurt themselves.
3) Expressing emotions – this is thinking about how you express emotions and how you can harness them to your advantage. Trying to think of a happy memory when feeling blue actually changes activity in the brain and can help to alleviate a bad mood .
4) Managing emotions – in order to healthily manage emotions you need to be aware of them and of the coping strategies you use. Do you avoid and shutdown negative emotions when they appear? Or do you dwell on them? How does your mood from earlier affect your interactions now? Are you feeling blue and is this affecting how you are viewing the current situation? Learning to recognise your appraisal of a situation and how your emotions may affect it, including considering that your appraisal might be wrong, is an important aspect of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence programmes may still be in the early days but starting to ask yourself some questions about your emotions and how they affect you – for good or for bad – may be a good start to becoming more aware and more in control.
1. Castillo, R., Salguero, J.M., Fernandex-Berrocal, P, Balluerka, N. (2013). Effects of an emotional intelligence intervention on aggression and empathy among adolescents. Journal of Adolescence(36), 883-892.
2. Nelis, D., Quoidbach, J, Mikolajczak, M, Hansenne, M. (2009). Increasing emotional intelligence: (How) is it possible? Personality and Individual Differences(47), 36-41.
3. Pool, L. D., Qualter, P. (2012). Improving emotional intelligence and emotional self-efficacy through a teaching intervention for university students. Learning and Individual Differences(22), 306-312.
4. Becker, M.W. and M. Leinenger, Attentional selection is biased toward mood-congruent stimuli. Emotion, 2011. 11(5): p. 1248.
5. Cooney, R.E., et al., Remembering the good times: neural correlates of affect regulation. Neuroreport, 2007. 18(17): p. 1771-1774.